On this day we traveled from Cusco to a Quechuan Village. The Quechua people are direct descendants of the Incas so I was thrilled to experience Peru as an Incan would.
On the way we stopped at a llama and alpaca farm and for a few soles were allowed to go inside their pen and feed these temperamental beasts.
I was a little apprehensive to stray close to any of the alpacas. One of these mean animals almost kicked me while pumpkin pickin’ a couple years ago. It should’ve been the other way around really. I mean I was wearing alpaca mittens and had eaten alpaca two nights beforehand. I should’ve felt like an alpaca hunter, but instead tried to be an alpaca peace maker.
I made peace the best way I knew how by filling their bellies with some greens (to fatten them up 🙂 ). The alpacas must have sensed my fear though, and sounded their alarm call along with not a kick, but a spit. Yep the alpacas actually spit on a few of us in the group. That’s okay though…I ate them for dinner later…I kid.
Afterwards, we continued on our bumpy ride up the side up of a mountain to the Quechuan Village tucked in the Andes Mountains.
I loved immersing ourselves into the Incan culture. We were warmly welcomed with a flower ceremony, learned to plow the land with hand tools, and even baked potatoes in the ground. We learned more of their culture and watched the Quechuan women dye and weave aplca yarn.
After working up an appetite, we feasted on cuy (guinea pig), quinoa soup (my new favorite grain), and clay baked potatoes (with the clay still on them). Yep, I ate guinea pig. It tasted like rabbit to me; gamy. Much like rabbit I didn’t like eating it cause I kept picturing my cute guinea pigs from childhood, Bert & Ernie, but I did it just to say I did.
You can read more about my dilemma here.
Quinoa is long been a staple amongst the Incas.
Archaeological evidence relating to the consumption of quinoa in ancient Andean societies has been found in a prehistoric tomb in Arica, Chile and among the contents of a mummy’s possessions in Ancón, Perú. According to findings in northern Chile, archaeologists believe quinoa was in use prior to 3000 B.C. Further evidence from the Ayacucho area places the domestication of quinoa before 5000 B.C.
There is little doubt that quinoa played a fundamental role in the great Inca civilization. It is believed that the Incas considered quinoa to be a sacred plant: Religious festivals included an offering of quinoa in a fountain of gold to the sun god, Inti; a special gold implement was used to make the first furrow of each year’s planting; and, in Cuzco, ancient Incans worshipped entombed quinoa seeds as the progenitors of the city.
Click here to read more of this article on the Mother Grain, Quinoa.
Since Peru, Quinoa has been a staple in my diet. Here’s a little bit about the supergrain that’s swept America in the past year (found here on the New York Times website).
Quinoa (pronounced keh-NO-ah or, sometimes, KEEN-wah) is a relative newcomer to the American pantry. The tiny, ancient Peruvian seed, which has a mild, nutty flavor, is related to leafy green vegetables and is often used like a grain. Quinoa is as versatile as rice but it has a protein content that is superior to that of most grains, because it contains all the essential amino acids. In particular, quinoa is high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it has a high iron content.
Here’s a few recipes from Cooking Light if you’re interested in trying quinoa yourself.
This was one of my favorite days while in Peru. It was eye opening to see just how easy we have it here. These people live a hard, but satisfying life. We made many new friends and I loved living like a Quechua ( just for a few hours).
Read more about my Peru Trip by checking out these blog posts: